Saturday, January 28, 2012

Becoming Clean

I like this place.


It’s an odd place.


We had an original place in mind. Sort of. But I like it here instead.


As I sit and observe, I hear my professors voice in the back of my mind, trying to remember our original reason for being here.


“Your assignment this week is to observe a space outside of school for one hour. I will assign you a partner, and you are to agree on a location together to visit before class next week. You are to write no more than one page on what you observe while there. Do not speak to one another. This is an independent project.”


I was assigned Jordana, the tall brunette sitting beside me in Film 101. We were both too indecisive to choose a location that day, but we did agree upon a time, Sunday at noon.


Sunday came, and about 2 pm she texted me asking if I still wanted to meet. I forgot. Of course. But she forgot too, which made me feel a bit better.

We decided to meet at 8 that night, intending to head to a library for observation. Thankfully her desire to walk 1.5 miles to get there was just as low as mine, so we decided on a coffee shop in the neighborhood instead. On our way we discovered that the coffee shop was closing soon, forcing us to continue our search. We passed bars (who sits at a computer at a bar?), sushi restaurants (fish=ew), and many closed shops (typical Sunday nightness). We nearly settled on faking the essay (don’t worry, we didn’t) or just sitting outside at the park. Finally we found our safe haven, rescuing us from the peril of lies and frostbite, The Laundry Bar.


The Laundry Bar, located in Fort Greene, was a laundry mat that looked like it was still stuck in the 70s. Run down to say the least, the walls not been painted in years, leaving tiny blue chip fragments scattered about the floor. Among them are old socks and Sears catalogues littered the floor. The soap dispenser in the corner depicted a warm toned rainbow and font that should only be used at a disco. It was out of order, of course. While the décor of the place was very dated, the washer and drier units themselves where bright and shiny, most likely very up to date. They tossed and turned their contents with the low hum of proficiency while their drab customers waited patiently in silence, possibly contemplating their own proficiency in life.


I could go on and on describing in detail this tiny, run-down place. However, I am more intrigued by the context that brings us here tonight. Nowhere to go, broke, and tired, we found this place and it is now our little gold mine of stories. I wonder how many others came here in this fashion. Inspiration has obviously found my partner, who sits across from me, etching her way across the pages of her purple Moleskine booklet. Who would know that this place would be our savior tonight?


You see, on the outside, the Laundry Bar looks like a dump. On the inside, it looks like a dump. But this is where people come to accomplish something. To get clean.


It is interesting to me, this process of becoming clean. The contents that are being cleaned are all different. How they got there, the context that each sock, undergarment, and shirt, the sizes vary etc. but the actual process is becoming clean is the same. Insert clothes. Add money. Add soap. Push on. Wait. Take items out. Carry to Dryer. Insert money. Push on. Wait.


I feel as if I could make endless stories based purely on the context of the Laundry Bar. What brings people here. How the Laundry Bar came to be. The story of how things got dirty and how they got clean. The story of the owner of the matt, the others that work there, etc. I could go on forever. I tend to think more in metaphors than in obvious ways, so it is fitting that after an hour of observing this place, I still can only see it as a metaphor for the human condition. “We pick the dirtiest ways to become clean.”

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